‘Iconic’ is an overused word, but it’s the only one that can accurately describe the Colnago C series. The Colnago C40 (opens in new tab) was the first carbon bike to win Paris-Roubaix in 1995 and ever since then each new C model - there have only been four principal ones - has represented the absolute pinnacle of quality, craftsmanship, luxury and exclusivity as well as celebrating the number of years since Ernesto Colnago (opens in new tab), who is now 90, founded the brand in 1954.
The Colnago C68 looks every bit the worthy successor. It blends tradition - it is handmade in Italy, including the tubes themselves, following the tradition of all the C bikes - but incorporates the latest technology. A limited edition version with 3D printed titanium lugs - a first in a production bike - is to be offered as a made-to-measure option.
Additionally Colnago customers can design their own C68 via an app, creating an NFT (non-fungible token) version of it as well as a physical one.
As is befitting of the next generation of a modern classic, Colnago will offer a rim brake version alongside the disc brakes.
Perhaps for the first time in the history of the C series, however, the C68 is not designed for racing at the top level. Some UAE Emirates riders did use the Colnago C64 (opens in new tab) and the C60 before that, including Ben Swift, but the double Tour de France-winning Colnago V3RS is now the team bike.
So the C68, in Colnago’s words, has “a totally new soul based on performance but also oriented towards riding enjoyment” - though the geometry is by no means ‘endurance’.
Also for the first time a C-series Colnago is now a platform rather than a single bike: the Colnago C68 will be available in Road, Allroad and Gravel versions.
Colnago C68 frame
The Colnago C68 frame - like its predecessors - is made by bonding the tubes and lugs instead of laying up carbon in a mould, the process with monocoque frames. This allows more sizes to be created and, if customers choose the 3D printed titanium lugs option, a true made-to-measure frame with custom geometry.
The new C68 doesn't have the same obvious lugs as the C64 - it could almost be mistaken for a monocoque - but Colnago says the number of parts that make up the frame is the same. From a structural point of view there are some big differences: the bottom bracket shell is part of the seat tube while the top tube incorporates two lugs: one connected to the seat tube, the other to the head tube. These tubes and lugs are integrated in the full carbon frame version, but separate in the titanium-lugged version.
On the subject of the bottom bracket, Colnago has ditched its own Threadfit 82.5 size and now uses the T47 oversized threaded standard that fits pressfit shell dimensions.
Colnago says the C68 is lighter than the C64 in similar sizes, while the fork is stiffer and lighter than before. Cable routing according to Colnago is “innovative” allowing the steerer tube to be made without the now-common D-shape profile.
There’s a 10-function multitool concealed inside the steerer tube (or a four-function multitool for the two smaller frame sizes).
The seatpost is proprietary, but is compatible with the C64 and V3Rs for ease of spare parts and production.
Finally, there’s a neat new option for removing the front derailleur hanger for 1x groupsets.
According to Colnago, the weight of the size 51s raw unpainted carbon frame is approximately 930g (+/- 10g).
Colnago didn't include any wind tunnel data - because, according to the brand, the bike is not a race bike - but we were told that it has been in the wind tunnel, it is "way faster than the C64" and is even slightly faster than the V3RS, but Colnago is not marketing it as an aerodynamic frame because that wasn't the target.
In any case, we were told, most of the aerodynamic gain comes from the new CC.01 handlebar (see below), which is particularly aerodynamically optimised since it will also be used for other models in the future.
We asked Colnago whether the C68 would ever be used by any of Colnago's sponsored teams and got the answer "watch this space", though later it seemed that although Colnago's marketing department would like to keep us guessing, in fact it won't be used for serious racing.
Stiffness and low weight are more of a priority than comfort for a rider like Tadej Pogacar, according to Colnago, and the V3RS is roughly 120g lighter.
New CC.01 integrated handlebar
The C68 gets a dedicated new Colnago CC.01 integrated monocoque handlebar. There are four different width options along with seven different stem lengths and 16 combinations available in total. It’s light at 310g for the size 110/410 (the Vision Metron weighs over 400g).
As for its geometry, it has a relatively long reach of 80mm, a compact drop and a slight flare (+2cm) from tops to drops, but no outsweep. Colnago says the wider base of the drops enhances control on descents, while narrower hoods create a more aerodynamic position. The increased reach (compared to the more standard 75mm on compact handlebars) creates a bigger flat surface just behind the hoods on the top, for increased palm comfort and possibly better aerodynamics.
The bar is designed for modern wireless and wired electronic groupsets and internal cable routing, but is still compatible with external routing and rim brakes and backwards compatible with the C64 and V3RS.
The C68 itself is compatible with any 31.8mm bar along with a Deda Superbox stem (for the internal routing). There’s generally not much mention of wind tunnel testing in the C68 technical details but Colnago does say the CC.01 bar is aerodynamically optimised and that a lot of effort was invested in its aerodynamics because it will be used for other models..
CeramicSpeed SLT Headset with lifetime guarantee
The C68 will feature a CeramicSpeed SLT (Solid Lubrication Technology) headset that’s guaranteed for life. Colnago says there’s no way to damage the bearings inside thanks to CeramicSpeed’s proprietary (and secret) system - and therefore no time-consuming (and expensive if done by a bike shop) replacement of the bearing cups, made more complicated by the internal routing design.
An NFC tag is installed on the C68 that allows access to the ‘digital passport’ of the frame. Data is stored in the blockchain via the Colnago app. This is intended to track and maintain the up-to-date history of the bike and also serves as a digital certificate of authenticity.
Colnago is also using blockchain technology to allow customers to design their own custom paint schemes using the app and a 3D configurator called Studio. Once the bike is designed and purchased, a 3D NFT version of the bike is created while the factory in Cambiago receives the order and starts to make the bike. The customer gets a video of a Colnago worker creating the actual bike.
Colnago C68 pricing and availability
In total there will be 18 sizes across the different models: seven Road (available in both disc-brake and rim-brake); six Allroad sizes (disc only, from autumn 2022) and five Gravel (disc only, available from winter 2022).
Well it was never going to be cheap, was it? However, the Dura-Ace Di2 spec at £12,499 still undercuts the top-spec Specialized S-Works Aethos and Tarmac, which are both £13,200.
However, the top C68Ti build via Colnago direct, the Campagnolo Super Record build, will set you back a wallet-popping €16,780.
At launch, there will be just the frameset and Dura-Ace Di2 build available in the UK.
C68 Road carbon frameset: £5,069.95
C68 Road Carbon Shimano Dura Ace 12 DI2: £12,499.95
C68 Road carbon frameset – custom colour configurator: £1,000 upcharge
Via Colnago's direct 'Omnichannel' model, in euro, these are the options:
Framesets C68 Road Carbon
C68 Road Carbon frameset €5,650.00
C68 Road Carbon/Titanium frameset €6,600.00
Colour configurator upcharge €1,200.00
Complete bikes C68 Road Carbon
C68 Road Carbon Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12v - Bora Ultra WTO 45 €15,770.00
C68 Road Carbon Shimano Dura Ace 12v – Shimano Dura Ace C50 €14,065.00
C68 Road Carbon SRAM Red AXS Etap 12v – Zipp 303 Firecrest €13,260.00
Complete bikes C68 Road Carbon/Titanium
C68Ti Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12v - Bora Ultra WTO 45 €16,780.00
C68Ti Shimano Dura Ace Di2 12v – Shimano Dura Ace C50 €15,225.00
C68Ti Sram Red AXS Etap 12v – Zipp 303 Firecrest €14,205.00
For an additional premium Colnago customers will be able to custom-paint and spec an NFT version of the C68 (complete bike only) and order it directly via Colnago’s new app. A ‘white glove delivery service’ then brings the bike to your home along with special custom Scicon bike luggage for transportation and Castelli x Colnago clothing.
We have a C68 ready to review - it's the one in these beautiful photos - so keep an eye out for our impressions.
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